National Jeweler Network

Market Developments

From Conclave: Transitioning to customization

By Brecken Branstrator

April 25, 2014

San Diego--In today’s market, where shoppers have more options and many stores, both online and off, are selling the same products, it’s important for jewelers to set themselves apart.

A great, and perhaps necessary, way to do this is by offering custom designs to shoppers, according to Jim Tuttle, founder and president of Green Lake Jewelry Works in Seattle. During his presentation at Conclave on Thursday, Tuttle talked about how jewelers can make the transition to add to their bottom line and stand out in the market with custom experience.

“Don’t try to be all things to all people,” he said, adding that brands have moved away from being a status symbol now that they are more prevalent and can be purchased in more places. Designing for quality is also normal now, Tuttle said, meaning that offering luxury, high-end goods can no longer be the only thing that sets a jeweler apart.

“You need to be the brand. It should really be about you now and now about the things you sell.”

Additionally, with most consumer goods categories offering customization, shoppers expect to have the option available to them.

Customization also provides an added benefit in that “showrooming,” using brick-and-mortar stores to touch and feel products but then shopping online for the best price, is much harder to do since the designs and pieces are unique.

Tuttle offered these tips for jewelers to add customization to their services:
1. Make it a fun experience. The more interesting it is for them, the more successful the store will be. With so many other options, there has to be something to get their attention and make them want to come back for more.
2. Try new ideas. Designers can use CounterSketch, Matrix and many other programs, as well as pencil sketch, to create new and interesting pieces that are innovative and yet still speak to what the customer was looking for.
3. Be artistic. “They’re not just buying your jewelry, they’re buying you,” Tuttle said. It won’t pay to be cookie-cutter, and that’s not why the customer came to the store for a custom design.
4. Be edgy. For the Millennial customers especially, even the nicest store inside isn’t that interesting anymore, Tuttle said. This consumer group wants some sort of edge, and something that’s going to keep their attention.
5. Create an experience. Stores are competing not only with each other but also with the pull of buying online, which means jewelers have to work even harder to create an experience for the clients as soon as they walk that will justify that extra time taken to go to the store.
6. Give clients a reason to remember the store. There has to be something specific to it or the experience they had in the store that will make them remember, refer, return, and more.
7. Ask every day what makes the store stand out from others, and stick with this to keep the edge.

In his presentation, Tuttle also noted that Green Lake uses their website both for marketing as well as a tool in the shop. Since most people have looked at store’s website before they come in and shopped around for the ideas and designs they want, each design station is equipped with its own computer to access the site if they need to for reference.

Each client also gets their own private account on the website, giving them a private page to post sketches and renders, prices, their favorites for inspiration, and all of their client communications.

“I think it’s really important to have a computer with you when you’re designing with a client.”